Indian Airlines raise concerns on DGCA new rules
AVIATION & AIRPORTS

Indian Airlines raise concerns on DGCA new rules

Indian airlines have requested a one-year extension to implement new flight duty rules and pilot rest announced by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in January 2024.

The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which includes major airlines such as IndiGo, Air India, Vistara, and SpiceJet, has cited a need for 25% new pilots to comply with the new rule. The FIA has also stated that it will not be possible to hire and train new pilots by June 1, which could result in the cancellation of 20% of flights. Notably, FIA airlines transport 95% of passengers together. The FIA has further claimed that the new rules are ambiguous and more restrictive than those of any other country, making the Indian aviation industry less competitive. A senior DGCA official said that the regulator was considering the issues raised by the airlines.

In January 2024, DGCA announced new flight duty rules, which extend the definition of the night period by an hour, from 12 am-5 am to 12 am-6 am, and limit the duty period to 10 hours. It also restricts the number of landings a pilot can do to two and reduces the period for airlines to exceed the limit during unforeseen circumstances, such as bad weather or air traffic delays, from three to two hours. While the rules of other US and European aviation regulators mandate a reduction of duty period during night hours, none of them restricts the number of flights.

An executive of an airline has said that the regulator's new rules of increasing the night duty period by an hour and limiting the number of landings will impact the day-to-day operations of airlines. For instance, for a flight departing at 7 am, pilots must sign at 6 am, and for flights that end at 11:30 pm, pilots have a sign-off at midnight. Most duty periods start or fall between this windows. If a flight gets delayed beyond 12 am due to unavoidable circumstances, the pilot is now restricted to two landings. This will not only reduce the utilization of pilots but also require more pilots to be on standby during night hours.

Indian airlines have requested a one-year extension to implement new flight duty rules and pilot rest announced by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in January 2024. The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which includes major airlines such as IndiGo, Air India, Vistara, and SpiceJet, has cited a need for 25% new pilots to comply with the new rule. The FIA has also stated that it will not be possible to hire and train new pilots by June 1, which could result in the cancellation of 20% of flights. Notably, FIA airlines transport 95% of passengers together. The FIA has further claimed that the new rules are ambiguous and more restrictive than those of any other country, making the Indian aviation industry less competitive. A senior DGCA official said that the regulator was considering the issues raised by the airlines. In January 2024, DGCA announced new flight duty rules, which extend the definition of the night period by an hour, from 12 am-5 am to 12 am-6 am, and limit the duty period to 10 hours. It also restricts the number of landings a pilot can do to two and reduces the period for airlines to exceed the limit during unforeseen circumstances, such as bad weather or air traffic delays, from three to two hours. While the rules of other US and European aviation regulators mandate a reduction of duty period during night hours, none of them restricts the number of flights. An executive of an airline has said that the regulator's new rules of increasing the night duty period by an hour and limiting the number of landings will impact the day-to-day operations of airlines. For instance, for a flight departing at 7 am, pilots must sign at 6 am, and for flights that end at 11:30 pm, pilots have a sign-off at midnight. Most duty periods start or fall between this windows. If a flight gets delayed beyond 12 am due to unavoidable circumstances, the pilot is now restricted to two landings. This will not only reduce the utilization of pilots but also require more pilots to be on standby during night hours.

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